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The Custodians

Game Master DreamAtelier

An epic level game, about maintaining equilibrium and balance.


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Canton of the Outer Planes
Astrarium, City of the Custodians
15th of Rova, 4605 AR

The Herald woke as the false dawn of the Boneyard cast the shadow of a nearby tower over his bed, stabbing like the pointed finger of a god at his wardrobe. Another day. How long must an old man wait to die in his sleep these days? The thought was so well worn after these last few hundred years that he no longer tasted the bitterness of it.

With a groan, he rolled over, his reaching hand seeking the three bottles that his servant had laid out with customary clock work precision. The first helped of course, to quite the ache of his head, a pain that he knew had little to do with age, and far more to do with the tonics he took to ensure a dreamless sleep. The second quieted the aches of a body that he knew had lived too long, even if alchemy and magic kept it from knowing that truth. As he had so many days of late, he hesitated with his finger on the stopper of the third. It would taste foul, he knew... in almost five centuries he had yet to find any who could brew it so that it would be otherwise. As always, he finally drank it after a few moments of toying with the bottle, nearly choking on the thick and cloying liquid as he tried to swallow while lying down.

He had almost had his breath back, by the time the magic took hold of him, and he floated up, the sheets falling away from him before he angled his flight towards his changing room. The job, as always, waited.

-----

He stopped on his way down the street by a small cart that was selling kebabs, run by a family of marids. They were new to this portion of the city, he thought, while taking a moment to observe the children playing as small clouds of mist. Travelers, he suspected, rather than anyone who would be residing for any long term. But even so they knew him, greeting him softly by title. He'd had a name, once, he reflected. He was nearly certain of that. But it had been a long time since the last of those to whom he had trusted it had died, and now, even in his own head, he thought of himself as The Herald. He realized now that he missed that familiarity with others... but none of those in the city around him seemed to stay long enough to warrant it.

He had barely finished the kebab when the wind whispered past his ear. He recognized the gentle baritone of Ocuirthos at once, stopping to listen to what was said. And what he heard chilled him.

It took only the smallest focus of will for his flight to propel him high above the canton, as he took a path that would follow the great curve of one of the thirty legs of this canton, to where they clasped the legs of their others. Below him lay the Panopticon where Ocuirthos had sent its message from, and he knew that if he looked closely he might see archons departing from the minarets, clutching their trumpets.

He brought out the prism of his office, holding it up to split the wan light of Groteus that filtered up to him, and gazed deeply into its facet, before looking up to nod to the four others of him that stood equidistant from it now. After so long at his post it no longer shocked him to see them fully formed, but it was still disquieting to watch himself be spun out of nothing but cold and dust and a little bit of light.

Each of the Heralds twisted space about itself as it finished forming, passing over great distances as they sought their own paths. Like him, they would find their destinations unerringly, and deliver their messages. They were The Herald of Astrarium, and that was what the position meant.

-----

Before the dwelling that each of the PCs are inhabiting, an imposing elderly man in a flowing robe appears. It is clear from simply looking at him that he has seen a great deal of hardship in his life... his left eye is missing, and for anyone who looks closely by passing a DC 35 perception check, it is clear that though he presents himself as though he should be close to nine feet tall, there is nothing between his waist and the ground.

They knock, politely but firmly, on the door to your dwellings, topaz eyes shining as they wait for an answer. In the distance, you can hear a hauntingly beautiful dirge being played by trumpet Archons, picked up in rounds and carried towards you as it crosses the city.

Knowledge - The Planes:

DC 38 - This creature appears as though it might be a Solar, but if so it appears as though it doesn't quite have the whole disguise thing down. Solars also usually carry the symbol of their deity somewhere, and this one does not appear to have one present.
DC 48 - You realize that what you're looking at here are battle scars, rather than mistakes in a disguise. The solar has lost its wings, its left eye, and its body below the waist at some point in the past.

Knolwedge - Local: Astrarium:

DC 20: The trumpet archons of the city only play a dirge when a member of the Custodians is killed permanently while on duty for the organization.
DC 30: The figure is The Herald of one of the cantons of Astrarium.
DC 35: In particular the canton which is administered by Ocuirthos, a great wyrm Soverign dragon. Like each canton of Astrarium, it is composed of one of the husks of the world weavers.
DC 40: At the center of each canton is a building called a Panopticon, which is a home to powerful scrying artifacts, without which the Custodians would have a very difficult time doing their jobs.
DC 45: The Herald was once a solar, who was injured severely both in body and mind while serving in a conflict on the side of the Custodians. It is said that he can not be healed of his injuries because the missing portions of his body were trapped, still alive and metaphysically attached, with the enemy that was only barely sealed away.


Raiana goes over and answers the door.

”Why hello! Come in. What can I do for you?” she says as she waves him inside.

Knowledge: Planes: 1d20 + 33 ⇒ (16) + 33 = 49

Perception: 1d20 + 36 ⇒ (2) + 36 = 38

The poor soul! It must be torture to lose his legs and wings.


Autopass the perception.
Knowledge (Planes) 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (1) + 24 = 25
Knowledge (Local) 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (12) + 22 = 34

Skulda answers her door, taking in the man. Hearing the trumpets in the distance she sighs, stepping aside and motioning the Herald to enter her home. She leads him to a wooden couch and looking where his legs should be giggles slightly and says, "Please, sit." doing so herself. She arranges her pleated saffron skirts neatly and back strait, quietly asks "Who was it this time Herald?"

Does he have any spells cast on him? Is this his true form? (via True Seeing)


Auto pass the perception
Knowledge (Planes) 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (2) + 21 = 23
Knowledge (Local) 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (10) + 21 = 31

Setting the book he had been reading in the morning light, Validk rose and the front wall of his home dissolved to reveal his visitor.

Interesting, I do not recognize the species, an angel of some sort...

"Herald, you bless me with your visit. I hear the dirges, I epxect that your visit is one of business rather than pleasure. I was just sitting down for some tea. Join me and explain how I may assist." Motioning the Herald before him, Validk waves a hand, reform the front wall before setting out an extra cup for tea.


Not quite finished with Kiku's shopping but I'm half-way there, enough to get him going.
Perception 1d20 + 32 ⇒ (14) + 32 = 46
Knowledge (Plains) 1d20 + 28 ⇒ (20) + 28 = 48
Knowledge (Local) 1d20 + 28 ⇒ (13) + 28 = 41

Kiku is sitting comfortably by a pool of fresh water scooping mouth-fulls of it into his mouth with one hand when the knock came at his door. Kiku's residence was an open aired vault set high into a spike overlooking most of the district through great, arching opening in the sides of Kiku's 'tower' residence, only accessible by a long climb or by flight it was more a hollowed out shell filled with jungle vegetation and wildlife, supporting it's own humid weather system, than a house. Kiku's residence had no door.

Hearing the knock Kiku rises slowly and heads to answer at a leisurely pace, he heard the trumpets, he knew what they meant. He rarely received visits either, the two would be connected.

Reaching the opening where the knock originated Kiku pauses and views the scarred figure before him. Old, worn and tired. A solar without his symbol.

"Welcome to my residence Solar. What can Kikubwa do for The Herald of Ocuirthos the Soveregn dragon in this dire hour. I assume it has to do with our fallen member the archons are trumping for." Kiku's voice is a deep baritone of rock grinding but his words are pronounced and punctuated.


Raiana:

"Raiana Mithesmae." The Herald bows his head politely in greeting, as it passes over the thresh-hold of her door. "There has been an incident compromising one of the pocket realms, and the first Custodian on the scene has fallen. Lord Ocuirthos is putting together a group to deal with the matter, and requests your presence in his Panopticon, if it is convenient."

Skulda:

"Lysander, the titan." The Herald answers her question softly, moving over the couch and lowering himself, though his body never touches it. "Lord Ocurithos has asked that you attend him and a gathering of others, my Lady. He believes the subject matter will be of particular interest to you."

There's no illusions or anything that true seeing would penetrate. There are, however, a pair of minor spells affecting him; Overland Flight and a second that you can't put a name to (because you've not seen one like it before), but can determine is designed to attenuate the ongoing pain of his injuries.

Validk:

The Herald murmurs a soft blessing in Celestial at the offer of refreshment, before taking the cup and sipping from it. He chooses to remain 'standing' though. "Unfortunately so, Validk Ghujod. One of the Custodians has fallen, in a demi-plane constructed by a Souldrinker. There are obviously concerns over what shall become of this. Lord Ocurithos requests you visit him and lend your talents to resolving the matter."

Kikubwa:

"Yes, Kikubwa Mfalme, it does." The Herald confirms softly. "But I thank you for your welcome all the same. It is feared that Lysander's death will allow others to gain a foothold in the realm he was tasked with sealing. Lord Ocuirthos believes any team sent through to deal with the matter will need your sword, and asks that you attend him."


Knowledge (Local) 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (2) + 22 = 24 What do I know about Lysander the Titan?

"Of course, we shall depart at once. Are we flying there?" she asks. Skulda picks up her shears from where they were resting on the table and stands at the door, awaiting the herald to lead the way.


"It is always convenient for me. Helping others is my duty."

Raiana reaches up and gently puts her hand on his arm and says in a small voice:

"I'm sorry for your loss. The pain must be unbearable. If there is anything I can do to ease the pain please let me know. All you have to do is but ask."

Turning, she picks up a backpack and puts on several weapons. When she is done she faces the Herald.

"Let us depart. What is the best means of getting to Lord Ocuirthos’ Panopticon?"


"Very well, I am available now." Setting the tea down, Validk waves a hand and a small space opens in one wall, revealing a worn and well traveled haversack. The back of the space is lined with shelves. Validk quickly makes his selections and drops them into the haversack.

Closing the cupboard, he yells down the back hall, "Orsenn! Get your ass in gear, looks like we have work!". Slinging the haversack across his shoulders he looks over to the Herald, "Age and beauty before impetuous youth, he will catch up."

Striding over to the wall Validk grabs one of two cloaks hanging off the wall and slips it across his shoulders and haversack. another wave of his hand and the front wall once again dissolves before them. Validk rises several inches off the floor and follows the Herald out.

"Any particular souldrinker?"

Knolwdge: Planes 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (10) + 21 = 31


Nobody told me we started on Saturday. I am here now. I will read, and then post something in character.


You should probably put the DC for skill checks in the title of the spoiler. :)

autopass perception
I will also take 10 on any knowledge checks I have over a +35 on.

knowledge local:1d20 + 26 ⇒ (6) + 26 = 32

Knowing that such creatures are are never sent unless the message is of great importance Xailu steps aside, and allows the creature to enter, and waits for it to deliver its message.


Xailu wrote:
Nobody told me we started on Saturday. I am here now. I will read, and then post something in character.

No worries! I just happened to have a bout of insomnia and no plans last weekend, and decided to do something useful by getting us kicked off. Weekend posts are likely to be the exception rather than the rule for me.

Skulda:

"Usually that would be it, but I've been asked to bring you directly." He answers with a small shrug. "If you are ready?" He extends a hand in invitation.

You're pretty sure Lysander is one of the Custodians who has a very loose interpretation of what the tradition of maintaining a dwelling in Astrarium actually means. While he nominally has a house in Ocurithos' canton, he spends so little time there it is considered a minor scandal, and the source of an occasional joke. The last one you remember hearing had a three foot tall coral reef having grown in his bath house between two of his (consecutive) visits.

You also have a vague memory of the name being somehow important from before you joined the Custodians... a Knowledge: History check can be made to recall more about that.

Raiana:

"Thank you for the offer. Someday, perhaps, I will ask you to put an end to it... but for now, there are things of too much importance to still be done." He waits patiently for her to gather her things as he speaks. When she asks about the means by which they will get there, he extends a hand for her to take. "I have been given leave to bring you there directly, if you wish."

Validk:

"I couldn't say, master Validk. I was not party to the original briefing, and it didn't come up when I was sent to fetch you." The Herald leads the way out into the courtyard, turning to offer his hand. "If you will consent to traveling under my power, I can save us time."

Xailu:

"Xailu?" The herald seems put a bit offbeat for a moment by the silent greeting, but it recovers quickly enough after confirming the identity of who it is speaking to. "Lysander the titan has fallen. Lord Ocuirthos asks that you accompany a group to determine how this happened, and make record of it. Will you accompany me?"

As with the others, the Herald extends a hand, waiting for you to take it.


As Kikubwa greeted the Herald he relaxed his short legs and thumped down into a sitting position leaning forward on one huge knuckle and resting the other loosely in his lap. Tilting his head as the Herald explained himself Kiku's eyes take on a faraway look as he stares past the disfigured Solar. 'War, always war.' The thought runs through his mind as images of the remnants of past battlefields float before his eyes.

With a snort Kiku's eyes focus on the Solar and he gives a sharp nod. "I will rise and I will rouse." he states simply. "The Balance must be maintained. Allow me time to gather my war gear, pull my sword from it's sheath and say farewell to my abode. I will be with you shortly."

Rising slowly the black and silver dire-gorilla moves it's 1200lbs bulk at a leisured pace back to the forest and disappears into the vegetation. Moving through the thick undergrowth Kikubwa picks up various items along his path and puts on his person, a belt here, a ring there, mail as soft as silk lies draped over a root and red sash is hanging from a branch. Emerging into a clearing the dire-ape is geared up in all his gathered equipment, both gifts and plunder, all his gear except for his sword.

In the center of the clearing is a flat stone tableau and from the center of the tableau stands a huge adamantinum sword, it's blade halfway into the stone. Approaching the sword Kiku stops before it and stares, holding his breath as he remembers the devastation it had caused in his hands. A huge sword wielded by a huge, angry gorilla. The thought made Kiku chuckle. 'Time to frighten mortals again.' he thinks with another chuckle and grabs the sword in both hands and easily slides the blade out of the stone. Holding it with one hand he places it over one shoulder and hobbles on three feet back to the waiting Herald, all business again.

Coming back out of the forest clad in his gear he faces the Herald again. "Kikubwa is ready, lead me where you will. The armor you angels gifted me with will allow me to form wings for a short period of time, as you full well know I'm sure, so lead." Kiku gives a snort to finish his sentence.


I accept the offer and its hand, but the I ask my visitor to wait as I go gather my things. That way I won't have to return to retrieve them.
As we go on our way I make conversation and try to gain information.

"May I ask what you know of the situation?"

Things such as how powerful Lysander was, what type of titan he was, where why and when the titan was assaulted, etc.....

Taking 10 on diplomacy=54


"As you desire Herald."

Validk holds his hand out, speculating on whether it will be a teleport or planar spell.


"By your leave then." she says and takes the Herald's hand.

"I so do love traveling. Even in a time such as this."


Skulda takes the herald's hand while struggling to recall more about Lysander.

Knowledge (History) 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (8) + 24 = 32


I almost forgot about Vela, her animal companion.

"Vela, we are leaving. The custodians call us to work."


Vela hops down from the roof where she was perched and nuzzles Raiana.

She seems eager to go.


Kikubwa:

"That will not be necessary at the moment. I have been asked to convey you directly to Ocurithos, if you would take my hand." The Herald extends its hand to the ape. "Gently, if you please. This shell needs no more broken parts."

Skulda:

You recall a few stories, told to you by your mother's mother, about a titan that was given the name Lysander by a trio of Norns, because it claimed to have none. It regarded the changing of its nature as presumptuous, and took offense. Usually such a conflict would have been short, but the Norns, to their chagrin, discovered the thread of the titan's fate was such that it could not die. Taking advantage of their hesitation, Lysander captured those Norns, and they languished for a time as its prisoners. Eventually the Norns won their freedom by fating a hero to change the titan's heart so it would come to know regret, compassion, and mercy, and therefore let them go.

Xailu:

The Herald is pleased to tell you a great deal of what it knows, but unfortunately it appears to have taken the request as an invitation to reminisce about the 'old days', as it were. If tales were actually made of yarns, the few useful pieces of information the Herald has for you would amount to nothing more than a scant few inches, buried in a mile of tangents and recollections that tell you nothing of value... nor of any real interest.

It is, in a word, boring, and full of names that you have never heard, because there was never anything to be heard about them. But, there are some nuggets to be found among the old Angel's ramblings, if you have the patience. In particular:
-Lysander, you are able to determine, was a hekatonkheires, one of the first to find its way back from the realms whence the gods exiled his forebears.
-Lysander is not the True Name of the titan (which it has ever guarded jealously), but rather the name by which some of the fey who first found it called it.
-He was believed to be immortal, in much the same way as the Terrasque. It was this trait in particular (which seemed unique to him among all the titans who have returned) that caused the Custodians to actually seek him out and recruit him (usually the custodians prefer others to approach them). The Herald seems to have some misgivings about the role it played in this process, which you gather involved the forcible application of intense magic to break Lysander's mind and change his natural thought process.
-The titan actually possesses biological offspring of its own, living on a distant world within the Material plane. One of the conditions under which he continued to work for the Custodians, after discovering what had been done to get him to do so in the first place, was that the Custodians keep the existence of the sancutary of his progeny hidden from the gods (they're not required to protect any of the progeny who leave the planet, and will often hunt them down, rather than risk the secret getting out to the divinities).
-In terms of power, Lysander is a pretty heavy hitter, combining the native capacity for violence that is part of his heritage with dabbling in the arcane arts. A particularly vivid illustration of that is given in the Herald's tale of Lysander once physically tearing a malebranche limb from limb, while simultaneously unweaving the gate it had been trying to launch an invasion through.

Regrettably the Herald doesn't have much information about this specific situation, beyond what it has already told you and the others, though it does happily relate to you anything specific it related to them. It wasn't part of Lysander's departure (you get the feeling that The Herald tried to avoid the titan whenever it was in Astrarium), so it doesn't know many details about what was expected in the realm Lysander went to, or the background that led up to Lysander being sent... but it does know that Ocuirthos was the one who sent him, and suggests that your questions might be best answered by the dragon in person.

For everyone who takes the hand of the Herald, it speaks a few short words, and the inevitable feeling of teleportation twists your guts. You find yourselves appearing within a highly vaulted but otherwise barren hall, lit by a plethora of eternal flames that make the area relatively equally lit throughout. Each herald (except for the one with Skulda) dissolves almost immediately into dust and ice crystals, unraveling to melt on the floor. Humans in livery that sports the crest of Ocuirthos quickly move each of you away from the space in which you appeared and down the hall, towards a set of great double doors. "Wait here a few moments," you each are told, as the rest of the group is added to those waiting with you "While we make sure the lord is ready to receive you."

Spellcraft DCs 21 and 23:

DC 21 The spell which was used to bring each of you here was Word of Recall.
DC 23 The dissolving Heralds appear to have been some variant on the Simulacrum spell.


Kikubwa takes the heralds hand as gently as he can, his course, leathery skin softer than it seems against the Heralds own. Turning his hand in his own he gently pats the back of the Heralds hand in a gentle gesture of respect, followed by a nod to indicate his readiness Kiku closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

Experiencing the sensation of teleporting as he releases his breath Kiku takes a moment to steady himself before opening his eyes to take in his surrounding, gazing around himself he takes in the sight and scent of the hall before following his human escort.

Stopping before the door Kiku looks around at those gathered with him, giving a slow nod in greeting to those who's eyes he meets.


Auto success on both spellcraft's.

Validk (d is silent) appears as a mature human male, physically just passing the prime of his life, though still fit and active. His long hair is neatly trimmed and falls just past his shoulders, a strip of blue silk cloth twists through a braid behind his left ear.His age is further reflected in the silver sheen of his hair. His grey eyes glint with an inner warmth from a well developed sense of content and humor.

His clothes, from a styled great cloak to the leather jerkin and breeches, are mottled in black and grey colors, trimmed with blue silk threads matching his hairband. Sturdy comfortable boots complete the ensemble.

His aura is muted, that of what one would expect from a common citizen of Golarion.

Nodding to the others that have been summoned as well, he waves a hand in greetings to all of them.

"Hail, and well met, though better circumstances are preferred."


Raiana moves around the room while admiring the architecture. She has long silver & gray flowing hair that drapes over a buckskin outfit a like this.

As others arrive she nods in acknowledgment. Upon the arrival of Kikubwa she makes her way over to him.

She nods and bows in respect.

”Kikubwa Mfalme, the great Silverback King. Your deeds in the Mwangi Expanse are known to me. I remember my time there with fondness. You do a great service with the balance you keep. May there always have a champion such as you.”

Gesturing to the large roc next to her she says:

”My companion, Vela.”


"Hello to all of you. This must be serious if this many us are here."
He pauses for a moment and then says

"While I have always longed to see Kikubwa in action I hope that it is not necessary, but if someone or someone's have taken out Lysander they must be ready and able to fight."

Xailu then goes silent trying to figure how and why this happened.


Skulda takes in the others silently, a simple nod at each while looking them in the eye her only greeting. They are all so young, perhaps they do not yet know just how evil the multiverse can be.

She mutters a question to herself, parting the mists of time with her inner eye seeking its answer. "What happened to the titan Lysander, who once had no name, he who was taught to feel by my sister norns?"

Casting Vision 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (9) + 18 = 27 Assuming there's no other effects blocking it that should be a success.


Skulda's Vision:

For long moments the mists of time stay closed about Skulda, and the magics she has called upon echo her question back at her in confusion. The mists begin to resolve into flickering impressions that come and go too quickly to be absorbed, a series of moments without the linkage of underlying causality. Quickly Skulda realizes the magic needs more focus, a more specific question, or she will be overwhelmed, and the spell lost with nothing of value gained.

[ooc]I think that your question is a bit open ended for the spell you're trying to use, Skulda. What happened to Lysander is to vague for you to receive a vision of, or at least any vision that would be comprehensible: after all, his entire life has happened to him. If you'd care to rephrase to be a bit more specific (such as 'How did the titan Lysander die?' or 'Where has his soul gone?' or even just limiting your what to a period of his life, the spell would be functional. You are welcome to do so without needing to recast it.

The decor of this waiting room is utilitarian but comfortable. Along each of the side walls there is a divan, and in each corner of the space a chair. Each piece of furniture comes from a different age and culture, and while sturdy, they betray that they have seen many pass this way, and intend to see many more follow you. Above you an oval perhaps 15 paces across at its longest point dominates the ceiling, allowing you to look down at the Boneyard as Astrarium revolves above it.

From beyond the great double doors, you all hear a voice scream in pain, and go almost immediately silent. The door remains shut, the group of you alone.


How did the titan Lysander die?


Kiku regards the half-elf and the roc before him with a calm gaze, taking in their sight and smell in an unhurried manner but is interrupted before making his reply by the scream from beyond the door.

Looking to the others, wondering if anyone would react before him, he looks back to the door and lumbers toward it and pushes on it.


Is the entire group here? Even if they are not I am going toward the door. I was just curious.

Seeing Kikubwa head toward the door Xailu decides to follow.


I'm here, just waiting on the updated results of my Vision spell before I do anything else.


Skulda wrote:
I'm here, just waiting on the updated results of my Vision spell before I do anything else.

I am curious also.


"Well that did not sound good..." Casting Moment of Prescience, Validk follows after Kikubwa. "I have never had occasion to travel to Mwangi, though I have heard many stories of your exploits. I expect we shall get along just dandy."


Raiana moves closer to the door while trying to hear anything else from beyond it.

"I hope everything is ok in there." she says in a concerned tone.


Skulda Will Save (DC34) 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (14) + 24 = 38
A successful save versus the trap that was left for people who might try and scry on his death leaves you Shaken for the next half-hour. This probably will not have much meaningful impact, beyond a few skill rolls.

Skulda's Vision:

It takes a moment, for the spell to find the answers you are looking for, almost as if the magic behind it is hesitating. When your vision comes, you have just enough time to realize that some other spell had been lying in wait for the unsuspecting seer, before it arrives in the form of a phantom impact at the small of your back. Your eyes are drawn downwards to the spear that has skewered you from behind, a full fifty of your hands trying to grasp the shaft and force it back and out, while the others hang unresponsive. As they slide ineffectually over the gore-soaked length of the spear, you feel your legs buckle, unresponsive to your commands, and your vision fades into darkness.

The spell collapses as the darkness deepens, leaving Skulda physically unharmed, but slightly rattled by the experience.

Perception DC 45 Regarding contents of vision:

You could vaguely recall feeling faint ridges on the spear in the vision, but you noticed, just as the spell was falling apart, that the hands which were trying to force the spear out of you were actually getting sliced open as if they were sliding along a cheese-grater.

Heal DC 15 Regarding contents of Vision (20 if described instead of experienced):

The location of the blow from the vision would have severed Lynsander's spine, paralyzing him from the wound down. Given the fact that it was the only wound noticed in the vision, you can conclude that it was a matter of skill rather than luck which led to the spear landing there.

As Kikubwa tries the door, it opens easily on well-oiled hinges, some hidden counterweight making it susceptible to even a gentle push. Beyond the antechamber where you all are gathered, there's a great circular room, easily four or five hundred paces across. Double doors like the one you have opened dot the perimeter every thirty feet, most closed, but a few open to betray the presence of living spaces and other antechambers beyond them. Like the hall way and antechamber from which you are coming, the walls have been carved of a pale ivory like substance, but within the great room the walls shed a soft white light.

The floor plan of this great room is remarkably open, sloping upwards towards the center of the room just enough to be noticeable. At its apex, dominating the center of the space, is a great orrery that rises almost a two hundred feet into the air. Colored sand and bits of glass float in eddies and drifts, constrained and suspended by magic within the mechanism. Minatures of some of the great landmarks of the outer planes can also be seen, worked in amazing detail as they drift along, complex magic allowing the arms that support them to occasionally intersect but never collide.

Below the Orrery, moving down the slope in a pair of haphazard spirals as they approach the outer walls, are perhaps a hundred work stations, each a station a small circle of desks and tables and chairs congregated around a scrying apparatus of one type or another. At each station, you can see a small group of mortals working, taking notes and dispatching messages between each other.

At each station except one, that is. About half way up the hill and slightly widdershins of the door you've opened, there is a small cluster of four desks around an ancient cauldron of stone which is currently smoking. Two figures are sprawled on the ground near the cauldron, while a third is kneeling over them, and a fourth runs towards the far side of the small hill on which they're located.


Xailu quickly moves forward to see what has happened to the mortals.

"What happened?!" ask Xailu with equal parts of excitement and worry, to anyone in the vicinity.


What room is this? Do we know of it, or its purpose?

Validk takes a steadying moment to gaze about the room, acquainting himself with its environ and those in it before trailing Xialu, but at a stately and sedate pace.


I believer the orerry is an epic level scrying device.

Kiku snorts and smells the air, tasting it and taking in the scene. Glancing after Xailu Kikumbwa follows Validk at a the leisured gait of a giant ape in his kingdom.

"Doesn't look good." Kiku rumbles to Validk, stating the obvious.


The room is the heart of Ocuirthos' Panopticon, and you've certainly at least heard stories about what it is like, even though you usually receive briefings outside it, to avoid distracting any of the seers that are working. The Orrery is an extremely potent scrying device, supposedly already present when the first Custodians arrived in the city. The most commonly known/used power it possesses is the ability to show both the past and present alignment of the Outer Planes (the knowledge of which is used by the Custodians to extrapolate on what the alignment might look like in the future, and how they can keep it in balance). Knowledge Arcana can tell you quite a bit more about it, depending on what your skill roll totals to.

The people who are manning the scrying stations are (you believe) mostly sworn followers of one member of the Custodians or another, chosen for their gifts with divination magic and/or other talents related to predicting the behavior of the outer planes and their denizens. Some custodians (such as Ocuirthos) deliberately recruit mortals to serve in positions like this, while some mortals who lack the necessary abilities and mindset to take an active role in in maintaining the balance seek out Custodians to serve in this way. Without their help and support the order as a whole wouldn't be anywhere near as effective at doing what it needs to.

Closer inspection reveals the kneeling figure to be a relatively androgynous young human woman, who is holding the head of her identical twin, while sobbing silently. The other collapsed seer is an elderly elvish male. When she answers Xailu, her voice is a very close match to one which screamed earlier. "We were trying to find out what happened in one of the demi-planes, to a custodian, but... something went wrong. Decklan just collapsed coughing blood, and Maria screamed before she fell and hit her head on the cauldron." With a sniffle she finally turns grey eyes on you. "Please, help sir. She's not breathing."

A quick inspection of the area does suggest that this story is accurate, and while blood is still oozing from Decklan's mouth, it is a sluggish flow that suggests he is already dead.

Perception DC 40:

Something slightly off in the edge of the cauldron catches your eye, but only by running your fingers over it are you able to be certain about the faint fracture in the stone that runs vertically down its side, across the bottom, and back to the mouth opposite where it started.

Spellcraft DC 21 (Requires active Magical Senses):

Even a cursory inspection of the cauldron reveals that something has inflicted substantial damage on the spells that had been woven into it. It is definitely not safe to use in the condition it is currently in, and you're not sure if the magic could be stabilized after the item is repaired, at least without some minor detrimental effect.

Heal DC 20:

Both the male and female diviners are dead, and you can readily identify that the appear to have died as a result of having been experienced force damage near the middle of their backs and moving forward through them.


Perception for Vision 1d20 + 34 ⇒ (16) + 34 = 50
Heal for Vision 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (14) + 10 = 24

Skulda stumbles for a moment as the vision takes hold of her, enough that she misses the scream. By the time her vision has faded the other custodians are all moving through the large double doors. She hurries to catch up. Seeing the the young woman and the elven seer she says, "Let me guess, checking up on Lysander? I just did the same, that event was powerfully warded. I almost succumbed to the trap myself."

Perception 1d20 + 32 ⇒ (5) + 32 = 37

Does Greater Arcane Sight let me see the spell damage without spellcraft? I mean, without gaining any understanding from it, just to notice the damage.

Heal 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23

Skulda kneels down and examines the dead girl and elf. "Decklan and Maria are dead. I'm sorry little one. It appears they were unable to withstand the ward on the event. Who ordered this scrying? I can tell them what they need to know."


Perception 1d20 + 32 ⇒ (20) + 32 = 52

Kikumbwa stands behind the others as they examine the dead and dying and watches. Glancing at the cauldron something catches his eye and he moves over and runs a large finger along it's edge and down it's sides.

"The cauldron is fractured." he announces, "A crack runs from here, down it's side and all the way up here." he describes in a rumbling voice, trailing the fracture with a finger.

"Who was running from this site just now? And why did he run?" he asks the grieving diviner, his voice surprisingly gentle.


Validk has arcane sight, see invisibility, detect scrying, and nondetection running, along with immunity to detect thoughts, discern lies/alignment. He also has detect thoughts at will and will be using it on those around him. (DC 21)

Perception 1d20 + 33 ⇒ (5) + 33 = 38
Spellcraft 1d20 + 37 ⇒ (12) + 37 = 49
Heal 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25

"Interesting spell effect on the bodies. Doesn't look like the typical effect of a scrying trap. Let's see what the runner has to say about it."

If the running person is still in the room, Validk will cast dimension door to place himself 60' in front of the person if possible, otherwise in front of the door they are headed for.


Skulda wrote:


Does Greater Arcane Sight let me see the spell damage without spellcraft? I mean, without gaining any understanding from it, just to notice the damage.

You can see enough to know that the cauldron was a scrying device of some sort, up until very recently. Without a skill roll you can't really be certain if you're seeing the magic pattern break up because the item has been depleted, damaged, or simply because it is no longer in use, though you do suspect the first two are more likely.

The girl nods as an answer to Skulda's question about what they had been scrying on, while answering Kikubwa verbally. "Edric... he was Decklan's scribe, in charge of recording what he saw and interpreting it. I think he's going to fetch Lord Ocuirthos. He was the one who asked for the scrying."

Validk finds that he can't manage to penetrate the grief and shock of the elf-girl's mind, or at least not to any degree where her fragmented thoughts make any amount of sense to him.
Unnamed Twin's will save 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Edric's Will Save 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12

I'm going to hold off for a moment on describing Edric's thoughts and reaction to Validk's appearance, in case you want to hold off on that for a moment based on the girl's information. If you still want to go through with it, than no worries, you can place the spell as you wanted without any real difficulty.


"Well once Ocuirithos gets here I can tell him what I saw." Skulda says. She begins twisting a strand of her hair idly in her fingers, going over the vision in her mind.

Knowledge (History or Planes) 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (8) + 24 = 32
Knowledge (Religion) 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (19) + 22 = 41
Trying to recall anything about the spear which killed Lysander.


DreamAtelier wrote:
T Knowledge Arcana can tell you quite a bit more about it, depending on what your skill roll totals to.

taking 10: 49

After seeing that the custodian has passed on Xailu says "I am sorry, but there is nothing that I can do. She has moved on."

He then calls another custodian over to help monitor the situation.

I am taking 10 on all skill checks, unless I roll of course. If that does not work then I will roll if a second attempt is possible.
Xailu then inspects the cauldron(autopasses skill checks).

"It seems this device has been damaged."

He then calls the runner over to him.

"Is there a way to me to view who has been at this particular Cauldron recently? I believe it has been tampered with."

diplomacy:1d20 + 44 ⇒ (2) + 44 = 46


I kinda forgot about that line because I don't have knowledge arcana. Maybe I'll still turn up something minor. -shrug-


Raiana moves to the ones who had fallen during the scrying.

”Nobody should die that way.” she says with tears in her eyes and her voice breaking.

Moving over to the girl Raiana puts her arms around her.

”There there.” she whispers.


The knowledge Arcana line was about the Panopticon as a room, not your vision, so no worries on that Skulda.

Where's that damned dragon at? Oh no, they must have tracked me and are trying to get rid of loose ends! Edric's thoughts come across clear as a bell as Validk pops into existence in front of him. "Help! Help! We're under attack!" He shouts out, his hand darting for a small knife that hangs from his belt.

A different runner, dressed like a simple messenger, pauses to answer Xailu's question (note that there aren't any Custodians except for the group where you can see them in the room). "There's a log in the library, sir, where the seers have to sign off on all the visions and interpretations they submit. I think it includes which station they were using at the time. But that will only tell you anything if someone saw something they thought important enough for the Custodians to keep track of and act on."

Skulda's Skill rolls:

You can't really narrow it down to anything specific, given the results of your rolls. Certainly there have been any number of famous spears throughout history and the planes, but you can't really think of any that match the description of what you saw and felt. You do recall a particular passage that seems like it might relate, and is often used in arguments over whether or not the Aboleth have a religion, but it is unreliable, because it is a translation from a proto-form of their current language, and they're known to get notoriously short tempered when asked about it.

[u]And the (will/untranslatable verb) of the Annihilator is sharper than any (stone/reality), and all who are (touched/changed/interacted) (by/with) it (did/will/have/shall) come to (bleed/die/cease/suffer). It (moves/acts/behaves/mimics) the (untranslatable non-verb), without (being known/moving/thought), and even (fate/consequence/time) and (elders/endless/immortals/ancients) fall before its (resoluteness/conviction).[/u]

More to come later, but thought I'd get something up before going into work today.


What interesting thoughts, not at all what I would expect for such an incident, lets see what else I can dredge up from this weak mind.

Validk smiles and raises one hand, palm out. "Be at peace, you must be new here if you know not who I am, though you look like you just saw a dragon."

Validk steps to block the young man from leaving, "Let's not be hasty, we are here to determine what happened. And as it appears you may have been involved, we will need to track your steps."

Motioning for the young man to turn around and return to his fellow companions, Validk continues, "Now then, why don't you share with me your recollection of the events that led up to this tragedy, I would like to get all the loose ends cleared up as soon as possible."

Diplomacy 1d20 + 30 ⇒ (10) + 30 = 40
Still using detect thoughts on him, hoping that the prompts of the words 'dragon', 'track', and 'loose ends' will have him thinking more on his previous thought.

Sense Motive on his response 1d20 + 31 ⇒ (1) + 31 = 32

And if he attempts to run, I am ready to grapple him.

grapple 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (8) + 19 = 27


Xailu's Further information on the Panopticon:

The panopticons (plural intended, since there is one located within each canton of Astrarium) are believed to be located in what would have served as the 'head' of each of the Worldweavers. Each is dominated by a construct that is, in some way, indicative of the current state of the cosmos that the trio fashioned, and the cantons take their names from what functions it is easiest to keep track of in each construct.

Supposedly the constructs were already present when the city-world was first discovered and the custodians first founded. Unlike most buildings, which are almost never re-used, the Orreries have been in constant use since their discovery, with a new Custodian moving in whenever their current caretakers die. The constructs are simply too useful for the building to lie empty and it to become forgotten.

Experimentation on the constructs has confirmed that each one possesses some level of sentience (suspected to be remnants of the consciousnesses of the Worldweavers themselves), but only the most ancient, patient, and strong-willed of the Custodians have found attempts at communication to be safe and comprehensible, and they all report that the communications are far closer to observing something's dreams than actually have its attention.

The scrying devices in the room aren't really owned by any particular individual, but rather tend to be dropped off in the room whenever a custodian acquires a scrying device (as very few of members of the order actually feel any need to keep scrying devices, given their own capabilities).

"I... I..." The man blinks in confusion, his thoughts whirling. I'm not dead? But... then that must be one of the Custodians, not whoever set that trap. Oh thank the heavens! Wait. I just pulled a knife on one of the custodians. Oh damn oh damn. Will they let my family live when the kill me? Maybe he hasn't noticed yet. Slowly he lets go of the hilt of his knife, letting it slip back into the sheath. Track my steps? But then they'll see about her and me and oh no, I swore no one would find out, surely there's some way to keep it from coming up... focus on business then, don't let them see your fear Edric! "We had just started the viewing when I noticed the water in the cauldron start to boil off, sir. I knew that wasn't supposed to happen, but before I had a chance to say anything, Decklan and Maria were dead. It must have been a ward, but the cauldron should have filtered that out, kept them safe." That damned dragon didn't warn us there might be something warding the scene! What if the cauldron had blown up? I might have been killed!

While everything he says seems true (there's no contradictions in his thoughts, or other signs of deceit), there's a few oddball things. For instance, while he seems sad about Maria's death, there's something closer to a sense of pleasure or relief at Decklan's.


I assume I have no problem bringing him back over to the others?

Validk smiles benignly when the young man lets the dagger fall back into his sheath. "So reason has not completely fled, good."

Motioning for the young man to return to the scene of the crime. "So tell me, Edric. How did you know Decklan and Maria?"

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